German museums tentatively reopen as virus restrictions ease

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Visitors wait for the opening of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. More than 100 Andy Warhol originals have been hanging on the walls of Cologne’s Museum Ludwig since mid-December with nobody to view them after coronavirus restrictions shut down galleries across the country. That changed on Tuesday as the doors were opened to limited numbers of guests, after authorities eased restrictions to allow some museums, galleries and certain other cultural venues to begin receiving visitors again. (Oliver Berg/dpa via AP)

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — More than 100 Andy Warhol originals have been hanging on the walls of Cologne’s Museum Ludwig since mid-December with nobody to view them after coronavirus restrictions shut down galleries across the country.

That changed on Tuesday as the doors were opened to limited numbers of guests, after authorities eased restrictions to allow some museums, galleries and certain other cultural venues to begin receiving visitors again.

“We’ve been working on this exhibit for three and a half years and for the last few weeks it was ready, but couldn’t be shown,” curator and museum director Yilmaz Dziewior told The Associated Press.

“You can imagine how happy we all are here at that house that finally the audience for whom we created the exhibition can also see it.”

Museums throughout Germany closed at the beginning of November as coronavirus cases increased. Under new regulations, museums in areas with fewer than 50 new infections weekly per 100,000 residents can open without major restrictions, other than standard mask, hygiene and distancing rules.

When the rate is between 50 to 100 as in Cologne, tickets are being limited to online purchase and restricted in numbers. For the Warhol exhibit they quickly sold out through Sunday. A new batch will go on sale Monday so long as the coronavirus numbers don’t change dramatically.

The ex­hi­bi­tion was organized by the museum in concert with London’s Tate Mod­ern in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Art Gallery of On­tario, Toron­to and the As­pen Art Mu­se­um, Col­o­ra­do.

It seeks to illuminate the influence of Warhol’s immigrant background and his own homosexuality through his works, as well as how he dealt with death and religion, the museum said.

“Just as his celebri­ty por­traits and Co­ca-Co­la bot­tles held a mir­ror up to Amer­i­can so­ci­e­ty, Warhol stands for a di­verse, queer coun­ter­cul­ture that found its ex­pres­sion not least in his New York stu­dio, the Fac­to­ry,” the museum said in its description of the exhibition.

Cologne resident Karl Eiband was one of the lucky ones who got tickets to Tuesday’s opening of the exhibit, and said that for him it restored a little piece of one of the many things he has been missing during the pandemic lockdown.

“Like my evening beer, I miss art,” the 44-year-old said. “And since I don’t have the resources to hang a tiny Warhol in my living room, I visit the Museum Ludwig because it’s my living room for culture and art.”

The exhibit, “Andy Warhol Now,” runs through June 13.

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David Rising reported from Berlin.

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